Maximising our efficiency with steam

Chris Kind, Project Lead for Thermal Hydrolysis Plants (THP) and Steam Systems Implementation at Severn Trent, 20/11/2019

Chris Kind, Project Lead for Thermal Hydrolysis Plants (THP) and Steam Systems Implementation at Severn Trent, discusses how Spirax Sarco’s training and steam solutions enhanced operations at their Minworth site.

At Minworth, we are committed to achieving the maximum benefit from safe and efficient onsite operations, and with a competent team and a good health and safety record we have been able to do this. Part of this achievement can be credited to the boiler house manufacturer we worked with to install our new steam system, and the steam training program provided by Spirax Sarco. Both have significantly helped us to continue our commitment to refining the use of renewable resources and technology.

So that we were in the best position for managing a steam system, we spoke with other utility companies to determine how we should approach finding the right system for us. However, we quickly discovered that there isn’t one clear-cut way of doing things when it comes to the people side of steam system management. Not only did we need an effective steam management system, our operation and maintenance team would also require training to build familiarity with the newly installed steam equipment, and ensure its safe and effective operation. With these requirements in mind, Spirax Sarco and the UK Steam Technology Centre (UKSTC) were put forward to us as the steam experts to reach out to.

After meeting with the team at the UKSTC, we agreed on a comprehensive programme made up of several formal courses and some more informal support sessions onsite that would give the team of onsite engineers industry-recognised accreditation.

After several onsite introductory taster sessions with one of Spirax’s boiler house specialist trainers, the operations and maintenance team enrolled onto formal training, this they did in three stages. As part of the first stage, they enrolled onto the City & Guilds Accredited Steam Boiler Plant Fundamentals (Shell Boiler) course. It was great that the team achieved a 100% pass rate in demonstrating their newly acquired knowledge on operating boilers, and best practice for running a boiler house.

Next, to ensure our new equipment would be well-maintained going forward, the team enrolled onto the City & Guilds Accredited Steam Plant Maintenance course. Once again, the team achieved a 100% pass rate. The final part of the training for the team involved achieving Boiler Operation Accreditation Scheme (BOAS) national accreditation. Fortunately for us, the UKSTC trainers were CEA-approved providers and could deliver the course to the team without them having to use another training provider.

The team benefited from monthly visits from one of the dedicated specialist boiler house trainers at Spirax Sarco, who helped ensure the team were applying the skills they had learnt so far safely and correctly while gathering the evidence required for BOAS course entry. The site visits were very useful as the team used these as an opportunity to share any queries that the specialist could answer there and then for them. We really appreciated this, as the trainers’ depth of knowledge around boiler maintenance and best practice meant we could streamline our training process. This, in turn, set the team up for their entry onto the BOAS course. Following the last course, the operation and maintenance team were awarded their Certified Industrial Boiler Operators (Cert IBO) status.

Even though the formal courses had come to an end (for now), the team’s learning and training journey didn’t end there – the whole experience has been so positive that it’s been decided to roll out the same program for other Severn Trent THP sites across the country.

The team and I agree that the level of professionalism and quality of the training provided by Spirax’s training centre surpassed anything we had experienced before. The team were pushed further than they have ever been, and as a result we are now able to achieve the best results from our sustainable and efficient THP and steam processes. Before this the team had a limited knowledge of steam or THP, so though it has been a steep learning curve, we are already reaping the rewards of this comprehensive training program and hope to continue to do so.

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